3 NBA FanDuel Tournament Plays to Target on 4/16/21
"One cannot be betrayed if one has no people."
- Kobayashi (The Usual Suspects)
How many times have we been burned by the chalk in NBA DFS?
When it's time to start building GPP lineups, especially for NBA tournaments, the fundamental choice to make is whether or not to buy into the chalk plays of the slate. More than any other sport, the popular plays in the NBA are popular for a reason. Where we often get into trouble in tournaments, however, is when we begin to blindly trust a slate's chalk.
This regular piece will focus on tournaments looking through the lens of the projected chalk plays -- the usual suspects -- of that night's games. In an attempt to understand the context of the slate, this column will look at contrarian plays that help you gain leverage against the competition.
Friday's slate is a large 10 games, so we should be able to find plenty of options to differentiate off of the night's chalk plays. Let's dig in to see where we can pivot.
Damian Lillard ($8,600) - If I told you exactly one month ago (when Lillard was $10,400) that you would be able to roster him for just $8,600 in 30 days, you likely would have dismissed it as ridiculous. But here we are after a string of crossing the 40-FanDuel-point threshold only twice in his past six games, including scoring fewer than 15 actual points in two of his last five games.
Are his minutes down? No. He is averaging 36 minutes per night in his last five. It may be that such a heavy minutes load is taking its toll this late in the season, and Lillard is feeling the effects (33.9 FanDuel points per game the last two weeks). But coming into tonight, Lillard has had three days off, gets a cakewalk matchup, and may fly completely under the radar with so much early news and action on this slate.
Over the last month, the San Antonio Spurs allow the sixth-most FanDuel points to opposing point guards (49.7), including the second-most actual points (26.9 per game). With two marginal defenses squaring off versus one another, this game's total (234.5) has floated to near the top of the slate. Add in the fact that both teams are fighting for positioning in the Western Conference play-in standings, and this one has all the ingredients for Lillard to bust out of his slump.
Saddiq Bey ($5,300) - Bey checks a number of boxes tonight when it comes to tournament roster construction. First, he is a pivot off of a chalky Isaiah Stewart and Hamidou Diallo from his own team. The Detroit Pistons list six players as out for tonight, including Jerami Grant, so Bey's court time should be secure. Second, he is also a pivot off of fellow small forward Caleb Martin of the Charlotte Hornets. With the Hornets short-handed, Martin is likely to be one of the most highly-rostered small forwards tonight give his $3,500 salary.
Even before all of the Pistons' absences for today were announced, Bey's role has been secure for Detroit. He has crossed 31 minutes in three of his last four games and has produced almost 43% more than his seasonal averages across the board in his last five games, putting up 28 FanDuel points per game in that span. We don't even need 30 FanDuel points in this one for Bey to reach five-times value (5 points per $1,000 in salary), so with a limited roster around him, he should have no trouble getting there.
Perhaps it's because of all the players missing from both sides of this Pistons-Oklahoma City Thunder matchup tonight, but I am shocked the total on this game is only 215.5. These are two teams both in the bottom 10 in defensive rating over their last 10 contests. With Bey likely slotted in at power forward, he gets a great matchup against a team allowing 50 FanDuel points per game to the position -- fourth-most in the last 15 games. I'm an Isaiah Roby fan, but he can't hang with Bey when Bey spreads the floor and starts shooting threes.
Bam Adebayo ($7,900) - The Double Nikolas (Jokic and Vucevic) are both in such good spots tonight, it's going to be hard to look elsewhere, but anytime we have a center who can walk and chew gum at the same time playing the Minnesota Timberwolves, we need to sit up and pay attention.
Adebayo, of course, can do much more than walk and chew gum. He averages not only 19 points and nine rebounds per night, he is also second (behind only Jokic) in assist rate among centers. His defensive rating is fifth-best at the position, and his true shooting percentage also ranks in the top 10. And this is before we consider his date with the Timberwolves.
Minnesota allows the second-most FanDuel points per game to centers this year (57.78), and while I hate to constantly beat this drum, Karl-Anthony Towns is one of the best individual matchups a center can have; KAT ranks 71st at the position in defensive real plus-minus.